An important port city, Southampton is home to the largest economy in Hampshire. Located near Portsmouth, about 120km southwest of London, the city is part of one of England's most densely populated metropolitan regions. As the fourth largest port in Great Britain, more cruise ships depart from Southampton's waters than any other city in Europe. Hence, tourism - and the cruise industry in particular - is a major economic force here. With well over a thousand employees, P & O Cruises is one of the largest employers in the region. But the University of Southampton (4500 employees), Southampton Airport, BBC South, Carnival UK, and the local Ford assembly plant, which employs 1500, are the top five job providers in the area.
The financial sector supports 32% of the workforce, and Skandia Life Business Services is another of Southampton's top job providers. The public sector also accounts for about one-third of local jobs. But with so many visitors flocking to the city each year, retail and tourism account for more than a quarter of local jobs. Primarily based in the West Quay Shopping Centre, retail is an important job sector, and recruitment agencies consistently see demand for new staff in the industry. In 2012, Southampton's unemployment was below national average, and weekly median income was £466.30.